Kate Forbes MSP has called on ScotRail and Network Rail to further invest in train services in the West Highlands after the latest figures revealed a significant increase on passengers using the ‘Harry Potter line’.
According to the Office of Rail Regulation, station usage grew year-on-year at Fort William (up 17,342 or 12.5 per cent), Glenfinnan (up 2,498 or 27 per cent) and Mallaig (up 9,472 or 11 per cent) – on a journey which has previously been hailed as one of the most scenic in the world.
Annual passenger numbers were up by six per cent (almost 50,000 passengers) across Ms Forbes’ Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency, with growth at other towns such as Aviemore, Dingwall and Kyle of Lochalsh.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “It’s fantastic to see more people choosing to go on the ‘Harry Potter line’ and experience the fantastic scenery at the Glenfinnan viaduct, as well as the breath-taking views from Fort William to Mallaig generally.
“Ultimately, I would like to see more people using public transport instead of driving as it reduces congestion and its good for the environment. That means that public transport needs to be reliable, comfortable and regular.
“I would like to see ScotRail invest more significantly on this line, and capitalise on the clear growth in tourism the area is experiencing. Strategically, especially given the frequent delays with Fort William traffic in the peak summer months, it makes sense to get more people off of the road and onto trains.”
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch added: “Seeing passengers up by over 17,000 in Fort William and also by nearly 10,000 in Mallaig is absolutely brilliant.
“For a relatively small fishing village like Mallaig where parking is under pressure, that is a colossal increase and I hope that local shops and businesses have felt the benefit of the rise in visitors.
“If demand continues to grow, ScotRail and Network Rail should invest more so that visitors and locals alike can enjoy the beauty of the West Highlands.”